All posts by Jeremy Lloyd

Artificial What?

I’m almost back in Manchester after a relaxing summer in my home country and although I’m sad that it’s over, I’m excited to discover the second-year challenges waiting for me when I get back. This entry is more about what to expect as a 1st-year student about to start the AI degree or just any innovation-driven individual.

Artificial Intelligence. It’s a worldwide trend used in technology and known as the ‘future’. It can be a confusing term from time-to-time because different people use it with different meanings, but one main definition is: a machine acting as an intelligent human being (or even better perhaps?). This can all be relative, of course, but it’s just a concept, an ideal target for coders and you can take it as it is.

For a beginner, a good start for getting to know this field is studying machine learning and probabilities. Don’t worry, you will have them covered in your degree at some point, but if you are really interested and understand a bit of Maths, I recommend taking a free online course. It could be quite useful especially for Hackathons if you plan on doing some (which I strongly advise, too).

Anyway perhaps your asking why would you take this degree rather than the usual Computer Science? When I first came here I was questioning things like, whether I made the right choice? Or what if I want to know about other fields like, mobile applications or the internet? Well, initially, it’s actually the same thing as one thing you should make a note of is that the first year is the same for both AI and CS.

What AI does have different are some optional course units that become mandatory for the next year and you can also switch from your current degree to another type (within the School of Computer Science, of course), if you decide you want something else. I’d advise that during your first year, just stay focused and pay attention to what you enjoy most.

For those of you who already know AI is what they want, don’t expect too much of it in the first year. That is why I started with talking about independent study and in fact, it’s a healthy attitude towards anything that your Professors and advisors will keep on encouraging.

Some other related key terms that you will encounter and I haven’t named yet, are smaller topics within the field like natural language processing, speech recognition, cognitive computing or tools like classifiers, neural networks, deep networks. There are also many more and you will need to decide which type of human intelligence you want to exploit and aim for.

There is also something else to talk about in this context, called data science (and big data) and this is what you basically need to run your tests and improve your systems. It refers to extracting useful knowledge from various data sets, which would look like an intelligent behaviour, so: Artificial Intelligence. In addition to this is the fact that you need to decide which kind of data you want to analysed, be it medical reports, restaurant reviews or dog images!

From my perspective, AI is about a better understanding of people and the world. It is about creating means of discovery and it is about finding information that people cannot observe by themselves.

All in all, what I can conclude, even though I don’t have too much experience yet, is that you have the flexibility and freedom to do many things at Manchester. Anything you are curious or concerned about, you will be able to learn about and you could find yourself motivated to change something. However, before we think about changing the world, there is a long journey to take and I’m sure along the way it will be filled with lots of bugs and self-discovery.

Till next time,



If you’re interested in the Artifical Intelligence BSc course find out more information.